Traffic trouble: New speed limit, construction may limit commuters

Signs+were+installed+on+sections+of+the+Scajaquada+to+enforce+the+speed+change.+

Melissa Burrowes/The Record

Signs were installed on sections of the Scajaquada to enforce the speed change.

Melissa Burrowes, Staff Writer

The electric sign is in a grassy spot beside the 198 Expressway, visible only a short walk away from the E. H. Butler Library parking lot. In bright orange letters, it reads: SPEED LIMIT 30 MPH.

Shortly after a three-year-old boy was hit and killed at Delaware Park, the State of New York decreased the speed limit of Route 198 to 30 miles per hour.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a May 31 letter to the State Department of Transportation Commissioner that he was ordering the DoT to “immediately lower the speed limit on this section of the roadway to 30 mph, install speed messaging boards, and construct park-appropriate guard rails” while investigating “long-term solutions to prevent further tragedies on this part of the Expressway.”

The 198 serves as a route to campus for many SUNY Buffalo State students.

“I personally think that it was a good idea due to that issue because it can happen to anyone,” said senior psychology major Latasha Smith. “I’m not as familiar with the highway itself but I did hear that it was open, so it was basically like easy access from the highway to get into the park.”

Megan Keogh, the assistant dean in the School of the Professions, agrees.

“Really, they have said that it takes no longer than three minutes more to complete it from the start to the finish on to the 33,” Keogh said. “I do travel it back and forth and it hasn’t affected me at all.

“Hopefully, it is something that will help to make it safer for people. You know, the loss of life is so, so tragic, especially a child,” Keogh added. “I have no problem with it and I hope that people understand the reasoning behind it. It just takes a few minutes longer and if it does help to save lives it’s well worth it.”

The 198, also known as the Scajaquada Expressway, runs alongside Delaware Park and Buffalo State. The area affected by the speed limit change runs from Lincoln Parkway and Elmwood Avenue to the 190.

Smith said the speed limit would “100 percent” have an impact on commuter students taking the expressway.

“I think that it will create a bigger issue with the students because that is a popular highway over here,” Smith said. However, adding that “to me, safety does come first.”

Keogh said students need to plan for the commute.

“That’s just common sense, like if you know that you have to be at work at a certain time or class at a certain time,” Keogh said “I not only work here, at times I was a student and I knew my class started at eight o’clock. I had to be out the door at a certain time.”

“Once they’re no longer a student and they’re working, guess what? You have to be at work on time too,” Keogh added.

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has said the speed limit should be increased, although he has not commented on what he would like it increased to, according to news reports from WGRZ-TV Channel 2.

“We will be recommending that past the park, as you go westbound on the 198 that the speed be increased,” Brown told Channel 2.

He added that “we are hoping that the reduction of the speed limit will be…potentially not permanent through the entire stretch of the Scajaquada Expressway.”

“If you increase it, people always tend to go five miles or ten miles more,” Keogh said, adding that “if someone’s doing 30 there are still people passing you, people trying to stretch it. So, how much more are you going to increase it? 35, 40? If you do it 40, maybe people are going to try and stretch it to 50 or something like that.”

“I’m sure other people get aggravated with it but even when you see it in the winter there’s always accidents there,” she said. “The road curves so much, so why not leave it at 30 miles an hour? I just think it makes it safer.”

Smith was also against the proposed speed limit increase.

“Either you’re going to put barriers there or decrease the speed limit,” said Smith. “That’s how I feel on it.”

The 198 is a state expressway, so ultimately the state decides what the speed limit will be.

When contacted for this article, the Student Life department referred The Record to Lisa Krieger, Buffalo State’s assistant vice president of Finance and Management. An e-mail sent to Krieger’s office was not answered.

The 198 is not the only road with a potential impact on people commuting to Buffalo State. There has recently been construction on Elmwood Avenue near Buffalo State, with roadwork being done on the bridge that overhangs the 198.

This has backed up traffic somewhat on Elmwood Avenue in front of Rockwell Hall. Traffic cones line the center of the street, with a line of cars and the periodic bus waiting for a turn past the impasse.

It’s made Keogh avoid Elmwood Avenue when she’s leaving the school, but once she gets on the 198 “it’s so much easier to get in there” since the speed limit was lowered, she said.

“I think it was just too late to bring the speed limit down,” Keogh said. “It should have been done a while ago.”

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